Battelle-led field test may lead to new waste-storage sites, energy sources

A research team led by Battelle Memorial Institute has been selected by the Department of Energy (DOE) to drill a 16,000-foot-deep borehole into a crystalline basement rock formation near Rugby, North Dakota, as part of research that could lead to better waste storage and new energy sources, the DOE said on Tuesday.

DOE said this project might lead to the use of crystalline rock formations to store radioactive waste and/or create new geothermal energy sources.

The use of deep boreholes in granite had been suggested by scientists for use in nuclear weapons waste storage over 40 years ago, and this recommendation was included in the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future report in 2012.

“This is an important first step to increasing our scientific understanding of the potential uses for crystalline rock formations, including the feasibility of boreholes as an option for long-term nuclear waste disposal," DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz said.

Along with Battelle personnel, researchers from Schlumberger of Houston, Solexperts of Switzerland and the Energy & Environmental Research Center from the University of North Dakota will be on the North Dakota field-test team.

The DOE said the project is expected to last five years and will encompass approximately 20 acres. Funding for the project is listed at approximately $35 million.

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